Performance Improvement 2008. How Did Eight Selected Sites Change their Sanction Policies and Procedures in Response to More Stringent Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 Work Participation Rate Requirements?


Researchers examined how sanction policies and procedures changed at eight sites in seven states in anticipation of and in response to regulations issued by the Administration for Children and Families implementing the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The Act and conforming regulations have the effect of making it significantly harder for states to meet federal work participation rate requirements. The contractor visited the sites, interviewed staff, examined cases and reviewed sanction policies. The contractor analyzed administrative data to explore whether a relationship existed between changes in sanction policies and procedures on the one hand, and work participation rates, on the other.

Researchers found that: (a) some States introduced more stringent sanction policies either by shifting from a partial to a full-family sanction (a full-family sanction means that the entire cash payment is withheld), or by shifting from introducing the full-family sanction gradually to introducing it immediately (by these measures no state became less stringent); (b) case managers devoted a significant amount of time verifying participation data which limited time they had to provide personal support to clients; (c) in general, sites with partial sanction policies focused more intensively on reducing sanction rates than did sites with full-family sanctions; (d) in one State, the work participation rate increased following a shift from a partial to a full-family sanction, (e) in another State, the work participation rate increased, following intake policy changes, which had the effect of dramatically reducing the percentage of applicant cases that were approved; and, (f) in a third location, efforts to work more intensively with clients to seek remedies for non-compliance with work participation requirements were successful in resolving many of these cases of non-compliance, but did not increase the work participation rates.

Report Title: Using Work-Oriented Sanctions to Increase TANF Program Participation, Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact:
Leonard Sternbach, 415-437-7671
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
PIC ID: 8510

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